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grading o line for 2017 season

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Grading Auburn's offensive line for the 2017 season

Auburn offensive lineman Darius James (78), offensive lineman Casey Dunn (50), quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) and offensive lineman Austin Golson (73) line up against Mississippi State during the first half Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com)
Auburn offensive lineman Darius James (78), offensive lineman Casey Dunn (50), quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) and offensive lineman Austin Golson (73) line up against Mississippi State during the first half Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com)(Julie Bennett)
 
 
 
 
 
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With Auburn's season in the rearview mirror, AL.com is taking a look at how the Tigers performed at each position during the 2017-18 season. The fifth part of this 10-part series takes a look at Auburn's offensive line.

Offensive line

Grade: B-

Overview: It was an up-and-down season for Auburn's offensive line, which saw a strong midseason stretch bookended by poor performances. The Tigers entered the season expecting the offensive line to be the strength of the offense, but it took nearly a quarter of the season for the line to settle in with its best five-man lineup, and the team wound up starting seven different lineups in 14 games. Austin Golson proved valuable as a versatile piece who started four of five positions up front and played all five spots, while grad transfer Casey Dunn helped solidify the line by taking over at center, Braden Smith continued to be a fixture at right guard and Marquel Harrell emerged as a surprise late in the season.

The offensive line was a finalist for the Joe Moore Award, which is given annually to the nation's top unit up front, but a stellar middle of the season was marred by an 11-sack performance against Clemson in Week 2 and a six-sack effort in the Peach Bowl to close the season. In all, the unit ranked 114th nationally in sacks allowed with 36, but nearly half of those came in two games. The line also helped pave the way for a top-26 rushing offense and generally gave Jarrett Stidham time to work in the pocket as Auburn surged during the second half of the season.

Top performer: While Golson's versatility was key to Auburn's offensive line staying afloat as it dealt with injuries and toyed with lineups, it's hard to overlook what Smith did as a third-year starter at right guard. The 6-foot-6, 303-pounder was the Tigers' most dominant offensive lineman, and he entered the Peach Bowl with a pass-blocking efficiency of 99.0, according to Pro Football Focus, which was eighth nationally among draft-eligible guards. As positions shifted around him, Smith was the lone constant on Auburn's offensive line, starting all 14 games this season while earning All-America honors.

 

Biggest surprise: Harrell. The redshirt sophomore didn't start the season among Auburn's top-five offensive linemen, but he certainly ended it as one. The 6-foot-3, 308-pounder -- who appeared in just four games as a reserve last season -- made his first career start on the road against Arkansas in Week 8 and then started the final four games of the season at left guard.  

High point: Arkansas. In a 52-20 road win against the Razorbacks, the Tigers' offensive line dominated despite being down two of its usual starters. The unit did not allow a sack for the first time all season, keeping Jarrett Stidham clean in the pocket as he completed 19-of-28 passes for 218 yards. The line also paved the way for Auburn's best rushing performance of the season, as the team accumulated 345 yards on the ground while averaging a season-high 7.34 yards per carry and five touchdowns.

Low point: The Week 2 loss to Clemson. In what was the worst offensive output of Gus Malzahn's coaching career, Auburn's offensive line was historically bad against Clemson's defense, which registered 11 sacks and limited Auburn to a season-worst 38 rushing yards on 42 attempts.

Who's returning: Auburn loses five seniors up front, including four starters, but returns key pieces in guards Harrell and Mike Horton, as well as tackle Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. The Tigers also bring back Kaleb Kim, Bailey Sharp, Tyler Carr, Prince Michael Sammons and redshirting freshmen Austin Troxell, Nick Brahms, Calvin Ashley and Brodarious Hamm.

 

How will Auburn replace 4 OL starters in 2018?

How will Auburn replace 4 OL starters in 2018?

No Auburn position group is impacted more by turnover this offseason than the offensive line.

 

Who Auburn adds in 2018: Auburn signed two offensive linemen during the early signing period in four-star guard Jalil Irvin, who could also play center, and three-star tackle Kameron Stutts, who could also project as a guard at the college level. The Tigers would like to add a couple more linemen by National Signing Day.

 

NOTE.good grief i have been having the devil to pay to simply copy and paste articles from that birmingham site. seems some of the content seems shady so my puter was blocking things. i guess some of y'all were right eh? lol  i still want my auburn brothers and sisters to be able to read ALL articles when i have time and ind them.

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On 1/10/2018 at 9:55 AM, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

C- at best. Played with such inconsistency there is no way it could be B-. We were lucky to have KJ. He made that OL look better than it was.  

I'll go with D. No offensive line that surrenders 11 sacks in one game, or gets physically whipped by UCF should be mentioned anywhere in the vicinity of some kind of award.

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I would have given them a solid B till the last 2 games.  Those we so awful it would be hard to come up with an average.   I would say Smith, Golson and Dunn were solid most of the year.  

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the sad thing is that if the line played up to their talent level we would have likely won each of the games we raked up a loss. 

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9 hours ago, Randman5000 said:

36 sacks.....

giphy.gif

Wasn’t that CHH SOP coming in? Didn’t his lines historically get their QBs beat up?

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Solid C 

completely dominated sometimes but would have a game and give up sacks galore.  Even with an average grade was probably number 3 or 4 in the conference but with the experience that was probably 3-4 spots to low.  So overall I’d go with underachieved.  

This is for you coach Hand.  You’re on notice!!  Have the fricking line ready to handle odd and even man fronts.  Have the line ready for middle and edge blitz.  If the OL gets beat on a stunt or twist that’s on them.  The rest is on you unless there is a Center communication issue which also falls on you Herbie.  

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C to C- like I said last year he didn't pick out our best line.....injuries did. That in itself was a red flag

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Golson deserves an A... how many other linemen have successfully played every position in a single season? Smith, I'd give an A-. He was great pulling and finishing plays, but he also got destroyed at least a few times against lesser guys. Dunn probably deserves a B, but I can't speak to how well he communicated. Everyone else is a B- at best.

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13 hours ago, lionheartkc said:

Golson deserves an A... how many other linemen have successfully played every position in a single season? Smith, I'd give an A-. He was great pulling and finishing plays, but he also got destroyed at least a few times against lesser guys. Dunn probably deserves a B, but I can't speak to how well he communicated. Everyone else is a B- at best.

 

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I feel like we're bullies. When we get a team on the run, our guys look amazing. But look at how we struggled when Georgia Southern and Mercer stood up to us.

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30 minutes ago, DyeCampAlum said:

I feel like we're bullies. When we get a team on the run, our guys look amazing. But look at how we struggled when Georgia Southern and Mercer stood up to us.

It appears that we react to the flow of the game instead of dictate the flow.

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1 hour ago, I_M4_AU said:

It appears that we react to the flow of the game instead of dictate the flow.

This... and we have appear to have trouble getting hyped-up for lesser opponents.

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